I am afraid of heights. I have always been afraid of heights. When I was a child, there was a structure at a local park where you could see the Disneyland Matterhorn from. I never saw the Matterhorn through my fearful tears. I think I made it to the top, but I could hardly pry my fingers from the hard steel bars to look out at the world.
I’ve climbed up high dives and broken into tears. I went to a rock gym on a date once. I clambered quickly to the top of the wall, started crying, and refused to come down. Three times.
I don’t know what it is about heights that scare me. I don’t think about falling. I don’t think about much of anything. Maybe the world is too big. Maybe I feel the pull of gravity in the wrong place. Maybe I feel out of control. I’m not sure. I’m too busy crying.
Today, my sister and I went to the Thrill It Fun Center . I thought it was an arcade, but it turned out to be a kind of play center for kids and adults. There were games, but also a climbing wall, interactive ball pit (it kind of looked like an obstacle course), laser tag, and, above it all, the High Ropes Challenge . There, you are secured into a harness, hooked into some beams on the wall, and told to walk ropes dangling above the ground.
I did it.
I was terrified. When I get scared, I stop talking. It’s all monosyllables and concentrating on my breathing. I went up first and proceeded to do what was probably one of the most difficult elements:
It was two parallel ropes with handholds about two feet away from each other. Did I mention I was wearing ballet flats that pinch slightly in the toes? I was able to concentrate on not wanting to lose the shoes until I got to the first platform.
Then, I realized I was going to have to live there for the rest of my life. My palms sweat, my heart pounded, my mind was blank. I looked around for an exit, a way to get down. There was none. I had no idea what I was going to do.
I don’t remember what the worker said to get me to move. A normal person may have been sightly shamed by the ten year old who was clambering the rigging like a monkey with no fear, but I am not shamed by my fear. I accept it. I embrace it.
In the end, I was coaxed to move. I did every single element in the course. There was no one moment that I wasn’t terrified of some nameless terror. But, I did it. Because I am the girl who is terrified of heights, will cry when I get to the top, and I climb anyway.
My sister, Erin, that one geek girl.